Fresh fighting erupts in Longechuk as SSPDF attacks SPLA-IO base
Fierce fighting has erupted this morning at Guol, an SPLA-IO base in Longechuk County of South Sudan's Upper Nile state after forces belonging to South Sudan People's Defense Forces (SSPDF) Commanded by General James Khor Chuol attacked the SPLA-IO base for the fourth day in a row, residents and SPLA-IO spokesman said.
JUBA – Fierce fighting has erupted this morning at Guol, an SPLA-IO base in Longechuk County of South Sudan’s Upper Nile state after forces belonging to South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) Commanded by General James Khor Chuol attacked the SPLA-IO base for the fourth day in a row, residents and SPLA-IO spokesman said.
This escalation comes less than two days since the main armed opposition group announced that it was suspending its participation in the security mechanisms over continued attacks from SSPDF against its bases in both Upper and Unity states.
The SSPDF however claim that the suspension of the participation in the mechanisms from the SPLA-IO constitutes a declaration of war. But the SPLA-IO says that its withdrawal from the joint security mechanisms was peaceful and does not amount to a declaration of war.
Speaking to Sudans Post this afternoon, a resident who is in Longechuk said SSPDF forces led by General Khor Chuol launched an attack on the SPLA-IO base during the early hours of Thursday before being repulsed, but made a comeback with dozens of cars making the fighting intensive.
“They first attacked this base about 6 AM in the morning but they were defeated. Now they have come back with military cars, many of them, and the fighting has escalated and is now ongoing and as such even I cannot speak well where I am standing now,” he said on condition of anonymity.
“As I am talking to you, fighting is ongoing in Longechuk and the SSPDF forces have attacked the positions of the SPLA-IO under Riek Machar and these forces seems to be putting up a staunch stance against the forces of General Khor Chuol Giet and now there is a heavy bombardment,” he added.
SSPDF, SPLA-IO exchange blames
In a separate media statements, South Sudan People’s Defense Forces spokesman Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, and his SPLA-IO counterpart Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, blamed each other over provocation of the attacks which now threatens further escalation in the South Sudanese conflict.
SSPDF spokesman Lul Ruai said the SPLA-IO started the fighting when its forces attacked its base on Thursday morning sparking response, as a self-defense measure, from South Sudan People’s Defense Forces troops.
“In the morning, the IO attacked our positions in Malual Gahoth in Upper Nile State. They are also in preparations to attack other areas like Pagak, Maiwut and Turru. We do not have much information for now. They are the ones who attacked us. All this time they have been attacking our forces in Turow, Pagak, and Maiwut. They declared it by mouth and they have done it practically,” Lul is quoted by Radio Tamazuj as saying.
“If they want the peace agreement to go ahead, they should stop fighting and attacking our forces in their positions. They should not say they will not attend any meetings for the security mechanisms. So they have closed any means for communications. Now they have attacked our forces and if we want to tell them to come so that we talk so that the war ends, they said they will not attend any meeting,” he added.
For his part, SPLA-IO spokesman Lam Paul said SSPDF soldiers attacked their forces in Longechuk County’s Guol and that the escalation was their making.
“They started fighting us. This is our area. Guol is under our control. They attacked us in Longechuk, not in Maiwut. The fighting is going on. They are even planning to attack us in Mathiang. They have sent their military tanks to attack us in Mathiang,” he told Radio Tamazuj.
“We left because they have been fighting us all the time. They have attacked most of our positions. If we are in peace let us not fight each other. Why are they attacking our positions every time? We did not declare war, they are the ones who declared war,” he added.
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